Research by The Children's Society released today also revealed that 46 per cent of families have had to borrow money in order to pay for unexpected expenditures such as fixing broken down cars or dodgy boilers.
The survey of more than 2,000 families found that many find themselves trapped in debt with some families spending over £1000 a month on arrears.
The Children's Society is calling for the government to give legal protection to families who fall into problem debt, with a 12 month 'breathing space' from mounting interest, charges and creditors chasing them for payment, so they can get their finances in order and set up a plan to affordably repay what they owe.
Speaking on Premier News Hour, Richard Crellin, spokesperson from The Children's Society said that the space would help families get back on their feet.
He said: "This will be an opportunity where families can hit pause on the spiralling interest rates and the costs and the charges for a brief period of time where they can sort out their finances and commit to a long term payment plan where they can pay back their debts in a sustainable way."
Crellin added that getting into problem debt was all too easy and that without breathing space things are likely to get harder in recent years.
"Often keeping up with daily bills and replying on credit to make ends meet can really push you over the edge.
Also of concern is the increasing cost of living. Inflatition is probably going to be uprated again on the budget on Wednesday and so families are really going to be stretched in their budget over the coming years."
Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking to Richard Crellin here: